Dunford Mulls F-35B IOC Decision; 4 Bs Take Out 9 Attackers

Breaking Defense // July 28, 2015

During the Marine’s recent operational readiness test of the F-35B, four of the Marine aircraft went up against nine enemy aircraft.

“It went very poorly for the bad guys,” Lt. Gen. Jon Davis, deputy commandant for aviation, told me this afternoon. Davis provided few details, saying they were classified, He did say that the F-35s faced a threat that “we have never put an F-16 or a Harrier against.” The F-35Bs, he said, did a “great job.”

I asked Davis about the recent news that the F-35A did not fare that well in dogfight conditions against an F-16. “I love the F-16. It was a great airplane. Still is pretty good, but I would not want to be in a fight against an F-35.”

In a clear message to A-10 advocates, Davis said the F-35B performed extremely well at Close Air Support missions using Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAMs) and laser-guided GBU-12s. The aircraft does need a cannon, he conceded, for some missions. The gun is currently undergoing its first tests mounted on an aircraft but it won’t be deployed on the plane until 2017 when the Block 3F software is installed. But Davis was unequivocal in his enthusiasm for the aircraft. “No airplane in the world will be able to touch this jet at Close Air Support,” he told reporters.

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